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30/07/2011
USA v France. 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women, Quarter Finals. 29 July 2011

PUERTO MONTT (2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women) - Things can get pretty physical once play reaches the Quarter Final stage of the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women, but Bria Hartley doesn't seem to mind at all.

"I had two older brothers, so they tortured me a bit," the USA point guard said with a smile. "We definitely played in the driveway all the time, and they used to push me around and all that stuff, but I think it just made me a bit tougher."

The USA faced one of the toughest physical challenges in world basketball, the determined and disciplined half court game of France, and while they were forced to fight their way back from 13 points behind and survive a furious last minute, the defending champions prevailed 70-64.

Despite being constantly hounded by Agathe Degorces and the French defence for all of her 29 minutes, Hartley emerged with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and just 2 turnovers, providing a cool head when needed under pressure.

The 176cm point guard rose to the physical challenge just like she did in the driveway all those years ago. "You got to be able to be just as physical and handle the pressure (in international basketball)," she said.

"Especially being the point guard, you've got to be able to get the ball up and get the team into the flow so we can still run and score," she said.

"I was really young when I started playing, and I was always taught to be really calm, to control the tempo, don't get rattled, take that defensive pressure and play your own game."

USA coach Jennifer Rizzotti is in no doubt about the importance of Hartley to her team. "Other than the Canada game she's been poised the whole time," she said.
 
"You can tell she is one of the two college kids on my team. Whether it's hitting a big shot, running the offence or coming up with a big rebound, she is so competitive."
 
While Hartley seems to take everything in her stride, being selected to play for her country - and winning a gold medal at last year's Americas championship - is something she takes great pride in. "I was very excited. Not many people get the opportunity to play for their country, so I was very honoured," she said.

When asked what she is aiming for in Chile, Hartley answered without hesitation "gold". But the 18 year old University of Connecticut student also said she is taking plenty more from the experience.

"It's a lot different from the US style, playing these foreign teams," she said. "It just helps you get smart, I think a lot of these teams are really smart, and you can see the way they play, how they react, on the court. So I just watch what they do and learn."


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